Here’s a nice piece of work, via Truthdig: Ry Cooder channeling Uncle Dave Macon (a trenchant observer of the high crimes and low comedy of politics in his day) with a new song, “No Banker Left Behind.”
In the last few days, Barack Obama has delivered two “major,” “landmark,” even “historic” speeches, which apparently have “reset” American policy in the Middle East, reaffirmed the overwhelming importance of “the West” (i.e., Britain and America) to the proper functioning of the world, and, we are told, “squarely” put the United States on the side of the dissidents and rebels of the Arab Spring. All of these claims, put forth in reams of earnest analysis and paeans of praise, call to mind the immortal words of Brick Pollitt: “Wouldn’t that be funny if that was true?”
From that place where the inner eye is sharp, and truth's grip is tight -- around your throat.
Can cops now invade your home without a warrant anytime they feel like it? Sure they can. Doesn't this completely and literally eviscerate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and specifically requires the use of a warrant? Sure it does. So, was there really any point in having an American Revolution, if we have ended up with a tyranny far more implacable, intrusive, violent and extremist than anything in the wildest dreams of the most retrograde royalist serving King George III? Reckon not.
In honor of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, here's a reprise of a piece I wrote back when he was just a whippersnapper of 63: There's a legend in my family that we are kin to Uncle Dave Macon. We are for certain distant cousins to the Macons of Wilson County – and Uncle Dave lived in the next county over. My parents met him once, driving to his farm one afternoon when they were teenagers, not yet married. This was not too long before his death. They found him sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. He greeted the young strangers like the kinfolk one of them might well have been, invited them into the house, showed them his memorabilia, and gave my mother – one of "them pretty girls from Tennessee" he sang about so often – a small, delicate glass deer as a memento of the visit. Back out on the porch, he picked up his banjo and did a couple of comic numbers from the rocking chair, feet keeping time on the wooden boards. There looked to be some whisky in his friendly manner, they said; perhaps a noonday dram before they had arrived. It was all over soon enough, but a photograph survives to record the event, a black-and-white print taken with my mother's camera. Uncle Dave is in the rocking chair, legs crossed, battered hat perched on his head, banjo in his lap. His face is puffy, pitted, cadaverous; the fire that had stoked him since his hot young days – in the still-churning wake of the Civil War – is finally going out. A dying man, from a dying world. But he played...
1. Aiding Enlightenment Arthur Silber, one of the great voices of enlightenment in our benighted age, is in the direst of straits, suffering through one of the worst bouts of the chronic ill health that has afflicted him for years. He has not been able to write for many weeks, but has now surfaced, very briefly, to give us the good news that he is still alive, and the bad news that he is suffering mightily, and that one of his beloved companions also needs medical care. If you have any money to spare, please consider making a contribution to Silber's website; it is his only means of support, and of course, donations fall when he is not able to write. The tragedy of seeing such a mind, such a spirt, forced to such perilous margins is painful indeed. Please help if you are able.
The Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas died late last month at the age of 93, having survived persecution and exile at the hands of American client-tyrant Augusto Pinochet. His obituary in the Guardian quoted these apt Rojas lines:I tear out the visionsI tear out my eyes every dayI will not and cannotsee men die each dayI prefer to be of stoneto be in darknessthan to tolerate the disgustof going soft insideof smiling right and leftand getting on with businessUnfortunately, America's bipartisan imperium is still "getting on with business" in Latin America in much the same manner as in Pinochet's day. And yes, this includes the progressive Nobel Peace Laureate (and rootin' tootin' hit man) in the White House.
Why have a million innocent people been killed in Iraq by the cataclysm unleashed by the Anglo-American invasion and occupation? Here's why:
In a world overshadowed by death and domination, life and love go on – at the margins, beneath the radar, far from the madding crowd …
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2004 – In a dramatic late-night appearance in the White House press room, President George W. Bush announced that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been found in a secret stronghold near the Syrian border.
The excuse for the War on Terror is gone; will the War on Terror now come to an end? The bipartisan high and mighty rushed to insist that it most certainly will not. Obama, Bush, Kerry, McCain, Boehner, Schumer -- all the great and good were quick to say that "the fight is not over," the "threat is still there" -- the profitable wars and fearmongering will go on. And on. And on. (Besides, who needs bin Laden when we've got Gadafy back as the demon du jour? In any case, Great Satans are always thick on the ground when the War Machine needs greasing.)I suppose there is a chance, however -- a chance -- that the elimination of this emblem might finally stir a few more people to oppose, or at least begin to question, the continuation of the wars that were supposedly launched in response to 9/11. Perhaps a few more people will look around and say, "Why is our nation going bankrupt fighting all these wars? Didn't they kill ole bin Laden already? Wasn't that what it was all about?"Of course, that never was "what it is was all about." But as the elites push forward with their wars, perhaps we'll see a bit more pushback. A wan hope, perhaps -- or rather, certainly. By and large, the American people seem to have accepted permanent war as a natural state, just the way things are and will always be. But perhaps the removal of this all-obscuring symbol from the public consciousness will let a few more chinks of light into a few more minds.